December 26th 1914 to The Committee of the County Battalion
The Durham Light Infantry
The only important matter to report since the date of the last meeting of the Committee is the Bombardment of Hartlepool, and the loss sustained by the County Battalion. Almost the whole of the Guard at the Battery were either killed or wounded by the first Broadside from the German vessels. Neither the battery, nor any of the other troops realised that they were German ships. I very much regret that we have
already lost six men killed - five on the spot, and one dying afterwards from wounds, and ten wounded, but none dangerously; and it is hoped that most of them will be fit for duty again within a comparatively short time. How any of them escaped is rather
wonderful. No damage was done in the trenches at all, with the exception of a few sandbags, etc, knocked on to Major Roberts, and one or two of the men, without serious damage. One of the
Officers had to leave the trenches while still under fire to re-call two Sentries posted on the cliff, who were discovered marching up and down with fixed bayonets on their beat as usual. Generally speaking, the men behaved excellently; and I think the Officers must have kept their heads under very trying circumstances. The Raid has, unfortunately, made it impossible for the G.O.C. in C. to allow the half Battalion to return to Cocken; and it is still under consideration whether we shall not take temporarily, at all events, the half battalion from Cocken to West Hartlepool; the G.O.C. in C. not having signified his approbation of that course if Colonel Bowes chooses to adopt it. There are reasons which appear to be good for this course;
which will not, however, be adopted for at least ten days.
The whole of the lighting has been finished, and the engine seems to take the load quite satisfactorily.
The Miniature Rifle Range is in use, though the targets were not in a finished condition three days ago.
The drying-house, and bath-house, are finished, and in use.
The new Canteen works exceedingly well, far better and more comfortable than the old tent.
The roads still present considerable difficulty; but cinders are being brought in and a more permanent covering will be given to the main road, under the direction of the Highway Surveyor to the Chester-le-Street RDC. I felt rather strongly that after our use of the building we could not leave the carriage drive in the abominable state it has been reduced to. The cost of this will probably be about £60 or £70, which will be chargeable against Government.
The four Miniature Rifles presented by Mr Henry Clark, of Whitburn, have arrived, and are of the greatest use.
The menís huts are leaking in one or two unimportant places, but are generally most comfortable; and the men have no fault to find, even in this cold weather. The tables and furniture, etc, authorised by the war Office are being provided, sufficiently to meet requirements.
A proportion of men and officers have been granted leave for Christmas and the New Year. Leave has, of course, to be made subject to the requirements of safety.
The management of the finances has been handed over to Mr. J.C. Fortune of West Hartlepool, in conjunction with myself.
I ought to add that I had, myself, an interview with the G.O.C in-Chief on the 21st inst. with regard to the stations of the battalion.